LAFAYETTE — An attorney advised the Lafayette Parish School Board that its protocol for public participation in its superintendent selection process isn’t “necessarily illegal” but did recommend clarifications to the process.
The advice may put an end to debate among board members about the protocol approved by the board on Aug. 17 that allows one representative each from the 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette and the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council.
The protocol allows the two representatives to serve on the interview committee with the board and participate as the committee selects the top three choices for the job — which will require a vote.
Then, only board members will vote on whether to accept or reject the committee’s recommendation, according to the protocol.
“In this particular situation, I can’t say it’s necessarily illegal. (I) can’t when the board still has authority at the end to vote (for) who was not recommended by the committee,” Baton Rouge attorney Bob Hammonds advised the board.
Non-School Board members may participate in the search for superintendent in “every way shape or form, but not to vote,” Hammonds said.
That vote the public can’t participate in is the final selection of applicants for the selection of the superintendent job, Hammonds told board members Wednesday.
Hammonds advised the board to clarify its existing protocol to have the committee submit individuals rather than a “packet” of three names as its recommendation for its top three choices for the job. The clarification should prevent a scenario of a majority split weighted by the two non-board members.
“I think if you do (it) individually, you’ll be OK,” Hammonds said. “Bringing it up as a package and all or nothing is a little more problematic.”
Board member Greg Awbrey had questioned whether the committee’s actions would be binding since the two non-board members would serve on a committee that included a quorum of the board. His request for an attorney general’s opinion on the issue was rejected by the board.
Board attorney James Simon requested a legal opinion from Hammonds, which was received in an Oct. 5 letter.
On Tuesday, the board held a special meeting to select 10 candidates from a pool of 26 applicants who will be interviewed for the superintendent job.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board randomly selected the order of candidate interviews by drawing names. Awbrey requested that the drawing be added to the agenda during the meeting so scheduling could begin as soon as possible.
The order is as follows: Gary Jones, Katherine Landry, Wayne Alexander, Craig Fiegel, Don Aguillard, Sheila Guidry, Luis Gonzalez, Pat Cooper, Maria Pitre-Martin, and Walter Gonsoulin.
Superintendent Burnell Lemoine plans to retire at the end of the year when his contract expires.
Also, on Wednesday, the School Board received an update on a new program that gives over-age fifth-grade students a chance to advance two grade levels in a year and rejoin their peers.
This week, the 99 students who applied will learn whether they will fill one of the available 40 spots in the program, said Katie Landry, deputy superintendent of instructional services.
Landry is also one of the 10 applicants who will be interviewed for the superintendent job.
She said the program’s orientation is scheduled for students and parents on Oct. 27 and classes will begin Oct. 28.